Treating ADD and ADHD with Acupuncture
A diagnosis of ADD (attention deficit disorder, sometimes called attention difference disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) indicates an inability to concentrate and tendency to become distracted. Patients may also experience hyperactivity (resulting in the ADHD diagnosis).
Typically, doctors treat ADD and ADHD with a stimulant called methylphenidate (common prescription name: Ritalin). Unfortunately, Ritalin comes with a long list of side effects, including insomnia, headaches, appetite suppression, and addiction.
Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, offer proven benefits with no harmful side effects. Please note that you should never cease medication, for yourself or your child, without first consulting with your physician.
What are ADD and ADHD?
These developmental conditions affect around 7 percent of children and around 5 percent of adults. Symptoms typically manifest by age 7, marked by an inability to concentrate or focus on one thing, negatively impacting academic performance and social development.
Patients experience a malfunction in neural transmissions related to attention. Physicians attempt to treat this deficiency with stimulants; Ritalin and Dexedrin are commonly prescribed to treat ADD and ADHD.
These stimulants carry a variety of short-term side effects, including:
- Mood fluctuations
- Persistent insomnia
- Weight loss due to suppressed appetite
Long-term risks include:
- Delayed growth and growth retardation
How Does Acupuncture Help?
Acupuncture works by using your body’s pressure points to clear blockages and restore energy flow (known as qi) throughout the body. Practitioners have used acupuncture for thousands of years to resolve an enormous variety of patient complaints.
Your acupuncturist stimulates these pressure points with hair-thin needles. Acupuncture needle placement is within millimeters of nerves, helping explain the treatment’s effectiveness. Studies that include “positron emission tomography” demonstrate changes in brain chemistry and function after acupuncture treatment.
One particularly effective acupuncture treatment for ADD/ADHD patients is auricular acupuncture (commonly known as ear acupuncture). With the addition of herbal medicines, auricular acupuncture becomes even more effective in treating ADD and ADHD.
Acupuncture Combined with Herbal Treatment
Traditional Chinese medicine describes all illness as imbalances within the body. In addition to acupuncture, many traditional practitioners prescribe herbal remedies to treat illness and restore balance.
ADD and ADHD are the result of liver wind rising and liver yin deficiency, requiring medications to calm the wind and raise yang. Typically, this leads to a recommendation of herbs to balance mood, such as concha ostreae (mu li). In addition, herbal remedies to balance the liver, such as plastrum testudinis (gui ban), and radix paeoniae (bai shao), may be prescribed. To restore cognitive function, your acupuncturist may recommend radix polygalae (yuan zhi).
These ancient medicines have proven powers to restore balance and improve memory and other cognitive functions. There are many more herbal remedies, but efficacy depends on each patient’s particular needs, so discuss these options with your acupuncturist.
A Safe Alternative
In addition to its effectiveness in treating a wide variety of illnesses and disorders, acupuncture offers a safe treatment option that is free of the dangerous side effects associated with every drug. Treatment is affordable for most, and covered by many health insurers, who are beginning to recognize acupuncture’s value in Western medicine.
If you, or your child, currently take Ritalin or other medication to treat ADD or ADHD, talk to your doctor before ceasing treatment. While prescription medications carry a variety of dangerous side effects, abruptly ceasing them carries its own risk.
If you are interested in learning more about using acupuncture to treat ADD, ADHD, or any other illness, contact Accurate Acupuncture today.